For years, Robinson Helicopter president and CEO Frank Robinson has delighted in leaking tidbits of information on the subject of his next helicopter, the R66. This year the company’s amiable founder all but launched the program by admitting that he has begun detailed design work and selected an engine supplier.
Robinson Helicopters of Torrance, Calif., arrived at Heli-Expo armed with orders and prepared to sell even more of its piston-powered helicopters. The question on everybody’s mind, though, is whether CEO Frank Robinson will finallly launch the R66 this year.
Coming off its best year ever in terms of sales, Robinson Helicopter president and founder Frank Robinson today confirmed in an interview with AINtv long-time speculation that the company is developing a five-seat turbine-powered helicopter called the R66. Robinson said the R66 will be powered by a new Rolls-Royce engine, the Model 300, which will be officially announced tomorrow by Rolls-Royce.
The industry gears up for its annual group hug, this year back in Las Vegas (March 15 to 17) against a backdrop of decent sales figures for new civil helicopters over the past year and a forecast of modest growth over the next eight. According to Bill Dane, senior analyst at Forecast International, between 2003 and 2012 projected deliveries are 9,500 helicopters valued at $19 billion.
Flight-testing is well under way for a new helicopter autopilot that, compared with other currently available systems, cuts both weight and cost in half, sources familiar with the project told AIN.
Two companies well known for supplying market data to the business aviation industry have turned their attention to the helicopter market, but they will be using different lenses to compose the picture.
Precise Flight (Booth No. 2030) of Bend, Ore., has gained STC approval for the company’s high-intensity-discharge (HID) Pulselite landing light for the Robinson R22 and R44. Precise Flight’s neighbor, Leading Edge Avionics, will be the first to install the HID Pulselite kit for the Robinson helicopters. HID lighting produces more light, lasts longer and uses less energy, said Scott Philiben, Precise Flight v-p of sales.
If sales are the standard by which the success of an aviation trade show is measured, Heli-Expo 2006 will go down as an unqualified triumph, with announced helicopter sales contracts tallying more than $620 million among all the major manufacturers.
Robinson Helicopter president and CEO Frank Robinson said yesterday that he is planning within the next few weeks to flight test an R44 Raven equipped with a two-axis autopilot, possibly paving the way for IFR certification of the four-place piston helicopter. Robinson currently offers an R44 IFR trainer but it can be flown only in VFR conditions.
American Eurocopter Flight Training Scholarship–Georgina Hunter-Jones, Whirly-Girl No. 586, London, England, to attend the AS 350 transition course at Eurocopter in Grand Prairie, Texas. Hunter-Jones, founder and editor of Helicopter Life and a helicopter flight instructor, holds the high-altitude world record for light helicopters.